How golfers embraced fitness training and “learned to love” the gym

Anderson, a performance coach with 27 years of experience, was guiding the three-time majors winner through a series of exercises for a photo shoot in 2014 when he saw something snap.

“He said, ‘Oh, I love how it feels,’” Anderson recalls. “There are photos and pictures from that photo shoot and you can see it in this great location.”

Anderson has been training amateur and pro golfers since 2004 and saw how physical conditioning can help hone a player’s game, even if it means tweaking a major winner’s swing with one-time advice.

“For elite players, it’s always about that little nugget, that little feeling, that little thing that they are able to put together,” says Anderson. CNN Sports.

“When you start taking advantage of the athleticism you already own and use it to your advantage on the golf course … you get consistent results.”

Anderson trains athletes in a wide range of disciplines, including American football, baseball and fitness in general, but it’s golf where he has seen the biggest change in mindset towards conditioning.

In today’s PGA Tour, most of the players are lean, muscular and athletic, both in the gym and on the golf course.

“I think I’ve learned to love it (the gym),” world n. 7 Rory McIlroy said in an interview with Coach Mag. “You start and hate it, you’re like, ‘Should I do this?’ But once you start seeing results and start getting stronger … I think that’s where the fun comes from. ”
McIlroy reacts to a chip at this year's Masters tournament in April.
The same attitude is found in the women’s game. LPGA tour star Lexi Thompson he told CNN in 2017 which is “addicted” to training, something he said created “dramatic changes in my golf swing distance”.

Anderson, who calls himself “a complete nerd” when it comes to the biomechanics of the golf swing, has observed closely how fitness has become a crucial component of the modern game.

“Twenty years ago, a meat coach like me trying to talk about the golf swing was taboo,” he says, adding that physical conditioning was previously seen as “not a big deal: a guy could have a physique to be like. daddy or a little swell. “

Today, however, he finds himself working closely with golfers to improve the physical aspects of their games: stability, mobility, coordination, speed and explosiveness.

“The golf swing is one of the most violent athletic movements in the world of sport … staying in place and moving as fast as possible,” says Anderson.

Rather than helping players get stronger, Anderson’s emphasis is on the durability and stamina of swinging a golf club over and over again.

To do this, use exercises like TRX – a suspension training tool that uses your body weight to build strength, balance and core stability – squat and lung routines, a set of planks, deadlift reps and sprint sets and jumps.

Anderson also sees a varied sporting background as an advantage for golfers.

He points to 2019 US Open champion and former college basketball player Gary Woodland, two-time majors winner Dustin Johnson – “could hit a basketball right now,” says Anderson – and 2017 Masters winner and avid football player Sergio Garcia.

“What I have found is that competitors on the golf course have a competitive advantage whether they play team sports or individual sports that require all those aspects of athleticism, speed, agility, reaction,” continues Anderson.

“Different types of pressure situations that occur through sport in general … These are the vein all over the world running through all of these sports, and from a competition point of view, you can really tap into them on the golf course.” .

Woods’ workouts

The relationship of golf to fitness training is not a unique phenomenon of the past two or three decades. Gary Player, a nine-time major winner who still trains regularly until his 80s, has often extolled the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

But it is Tiger Woods who is often credited with revolutionizing the sport’s attitude towards the gym.

At age 24, Woods said his daily routine would involve a four-mile run, a weightlifting workout, several hours of hitting the balls and practicing, another four-mile run, then an evening. playing basketball or tennis if he liked it.

“The work he has done is what made him a great player,” says Anderson.

“Now, if you look today, a lot of the young, athletic and very good players that are out there, Tiger was their idol.

“When they wanted to know what it was like, what it takes to be successful on the golf course, they were watching someone like Tiger; you have to be fast, you have to be athletic, you have to be powerful, you have to be balanced. And they were adopting that mindset.”

DeChambeau’s “scientific approach”

One of the most surprising approaches to physical conditioning in today’s golf game was Bryson DeChambeau, US Open 2020 champion and former No. 1 which amassed £ 40 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was an approach that reaped rewards when the tournaments returned, with DeChambeau registering four top-10 finishes in June and July of 2020.

“It’s a bit exciting for me because I’ve done something a little different; I’ve changed my body, I’ve changed my mindset in the game and I’ve been able to get a win by playing a completely different style of golf,” he said. to reporters after winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic that year.

But Anderson doesn’t think DeChambeau’s plan – which involved putting on muscle to drive the ball long distances – will change golf going forward. He says the window of opportunity offered by the pandemic makes DeChambeau an “anomaly”.

“What really helped him do that was having a single swing of the plane,” adds Anderson.

“All of his irons are the same length and all these kinds of things. He has a very cerebral kind of analytical and scientific approach that leads to the game. He can keep everything right on the same level and only go down with more power and speed.”

DeChambeau is currently absent from the PGA Tour after undergoing surgery for a fractured bone in his left hand.

It means he will miss the upcoming PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where newly crowned Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, No. 2 Jon Rahm and four-time major winner McIlroy will be among the favorites.

As for Spieth, with whom Anderson has worked on several occasions through a shared sponsor, the American could join an elite club by completing a career grand slam at the PGA championship.

He is undoubtedly hoping for another light bulb moment as he sets out to win his first major title in five years.

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